2016: the Summer for Football Glory
With the roar of the crowd now a mere distant whisper, summer will always be one of the most difficult times for a football fan. Besides the summer transfer window, the world of football lays in rest until August. But for 2016, we as fans are given the gift of life where the honor for redemption, success, and fame will be battled out for the ultimate international football glory.
To begin, we are just days away from the Champions League. While the illustrious European crown will always be here for us every summer, we are blessed with a fairytale story where two clubs from the Spanish capital will go head to head in their final match in Milan. While it would have been better to see Bayern Munich face the Spanish Giants, the match between the two clubs, especially after their first meeting two years ago in Lisbon, will be something instilled and ingrained in the history of the clubs forever. With that being said, we in the football world can only speculate and question the outcome for the UEFA Champions League. Can Atletico overcome the royal favorites? Will Zidane leave his mark on the club that made him a legend? Only Saturday will tell the final chapter of this remarkable story.
As great as it is to see these players bring silverware back to their world-renowned clubs, the international level of soccer is a completely different story. Unlike the club level, international football competition will always be a sense of pride and honor for their players. For them, each win is not simply a step closer to a trophy. Instead, it is a representation of pride and honor for the people of their nation. During this summer, we will be witnessing three incredible competitions. On the Western side of the world, we have the Copa America where 16 nations will compete for the international bragging rights. And across the pond on the Eastern-side of the world we have the infamous UEFA European Championship, a competition held with 24 nations fighting to be the champions of Europe. Last but not least, we have the 2016 Olympics where nations will seek redemption after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The Copa America, while at times overshined by their European counterparts, is one of the oldest and most widely viewed event in the world. Held every four years, this international continental football competition contest 16 nations within the North, South, and Central America to compete for the title. For this summer, the Copa will be held on United States soil for the first time to commemorate the 100th anniversary of South America’s regional championship. While Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, are seen as the favorites to win the competition, the United States and Colombia are looking to leave their mark and make a name for themselves on an international level right before the World. Cup.
Now for Europe, the UEFA European Championship, held every four years since 1960, is an international football competition played across 24 selected nations. While Spain currently holds the title as the champions of Europe, the World Cup champions, Germany, will continue to be seen as the powerhouse and favorites to win the title. But we cannot of course overlook the magic of Cristiano Ronaldo with Portugal, Zlatan Ibrahimovic with Sweden, and Gareth Bale with Wales. While individual star players are not usually the sole reason and silver bullet to win these international titles, they are the key playmakers that have brought their nation there.
Last but not least, we have the the summer 2016 Olympics hosted in Brazil. As much of an honor as it is to represent your country in this type of international stage, the Olympics will always be a step below the Copa and Euros. The reason why is that many high level international star players will be forced to opt out in order to represent their country for either the Copa or Euros. Regardless, the title, honor, and recognition of winning the bronze, silver, or gold medal will be something special for those nations.
So whether you are at home with the family, at the bar with the hooligan fans, or at the stadium cheering your nation on, enjoy summer 2016.